Posts filed in: Crocheting and Knitting

We and the Trees

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Ugh, this last one would've made such a cute Christmas card! Alas, in an uncharacteristic burst of organization and wherewithal, I've already had mine printed. But they're not as "Amelia" as this photo. This photo is just so her.

T H A N K   Y O U   G U YSSSS! Thank you so much for the orders. XOXOXO I appreciate them so much. Every order that came in before 10 a.m. yesterday morning has now been shipped. Because of all of the reissues we worked on this year we still have tons of stuff in the shop for Christmas and for the new year, and that makes me so happy. Usually we end the year with absolutely nothing. I have a few new design ideas brewing, including that nursery-rhyme design (that I did a few years ago and never stitched — or rather, I tried to stitch it but I was making so many major mistakes I literally gave up) that I want to get into a shape to release. Not sure if it will be a kit or just a pattern. I also want to do some hand-embroidery patterns for you to frame in little grapevine wreaths (we'll probably make a kit for it that doesn't include the wreaths, but you can get those easily at any craft store these days — it's really hard to get large quantities of stuff like this in a timely way these days, and it would probably go sideways if I tried). I'm also going to think about whether we want to start packaging our soap in little boxes so that they can be shipped in eco-envelopes instead of boxes. That was the trickiest thing about selling soap and embroidery kits together and gave me complete fits when shipping: Soap wants to go in a box so that it doesn't get smashed, kits obviously can be shipped for much less cost in envelopes. If we boxed the soap itself, we could put it in envelopes with the kits. I don't know. Still thinking about whether we even want to make soap to sell. Andy wants to! 

Anyway! Here we are with a lot of trees. We went to the Christmas-tree farm and to the woods. We've had some really nice weather, actually, and it makes hiking really nice. That said, I won't lie, I'm getting sick of going to the woods. Amelia gets her second vaccine tomorrow and then I think life will open up for us a bit more. Planning Christmas stuff outside is a little tricky. There are some things to do outside that we do like to do every year, including seeing the lights at The Grotto and going to Zoo Lights at the zoo, but now you have to have reservations and buy your tickets ahead of time — and what if it's pouring? Or freezing? Or like, no one (probably me) feels like going that night? Agh. I'm really not good at planning stuff in advance, I have to admit. As soon as I have something on the books I feel anxious, especially if I've spent money on it. Maybe this is an introvert thing! Anyway, I find it hard to commit to outdoor stuff at night in the middle of winter. What can I say.

Clover Meadow had two teeth pulled on Tuesday without incident and Agatha Kitters was spayed the Tuesday before that. She gets her silly cone off TOMORROW (she won't believe how happy she'll be) and we all rejoice that our pets are alive and well and good lord, December is an expensive month. . . . Agatha's personality seems to have completely changed, and she has become either freezing or incredibly sweet, as all she wants to do now is snuggle with someone. I was just upstairs brushing my hair and she was meowing and meowing at me and I swear she was telling me to get back into bed. She likes to be completely under my legs under all of the covers and blankets. She would stay there all day. I would, too, if only. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Amelia has made me her Christmas list and it is filled with such sweet, homely things I had to swallow hard when I saw it. A new sweatshirt. A velvet jacket (red or blue or pink or cyan). "Carmal" candy. Oh how I love her! Next week is the last week of school before break and I am ready for it. School's going really well but it's a lot, and I . . . just want to bake cookies and make ornaments and watch movies and reflect and recharge and quit the hustle of trying to keep her on task a lot of the time. Online school has been an awesome experience so far, for the most part. It’s actually kind of a combination Zoom-with-the-teacher-and-classmates and then independently doing computer modules, which, surprisingly, Amelia loves — but I mean, our lives at home pretty much revolve entirely around school. Within the first few days of school this year she made it clear she intended to navigate it all all by herself, for better or worse, and Andy and I actually have very little to do with teaching the actual content of her assignments other than making sure she is staying on track with the work every day. That she wanted to do everything herself really surprised us — this was not at all how things were last year — but we have totally supported it, and her independence and self-direction has been an unexpected and delightful consequence. And she needed that! We had definitely gotten into a pattern of Andy and I providing any and all direction and that never was what I wanted for her. The teacher is awesome. The new curriculum is pretty challenging. She gets a bit tangled up in language arts for sure but it’s seriously beyond. At our conference, the teacher told us that he and the other third-grade teacher think the language-arts curriculum is at more of a sixth-grade level, and I believe that — they're already trying to write opinion essays with a hook, a controlling idea, three paragraphs for supporting details, and a conclusion, and it's like, whoa, I swear she was literally just learning to read, let alone write! I think it's a bit too much. My neighbor, who is an elementary school librarian, told me at the beginning of the year that in first and second grade they “learn to read.” And in third they “read to learn.” That was really helpful to me, just to understand, yes, there’s a leap in third. It’s still been a big leap but she is so far very game, so we obviously protect that. Anyway, school things sort of fell apart for us last year at this time, so I am watchful. But I mean, wow, so far, so very good, and I am just so proud of my girl.

I have literally no idea what to cook anymore. No idea. I'm so over it. I make chicken verde in the Instant Pot every week, and I've developed an addiction to this not-diet-friendly but delicious version of bang-bang shrimp, and I guess I regularly make my childhood favorite, "pizza spaghetti": Cook a pound of spaghetti, mix it with 2 cups of milk and 4 eggs, dump it in a 9"x13" baking dish, top with Ragu spaghetti sauce (my mother only ever used Ragu in this and that’s what I use, too, or it doesn’t taste like childhood) and shredded Mozzarella and bake at 350F until custard is formed and top is golden and bubbling; I think it's probably 30 minutes.  But otherwise, I got nuthin. Please advise.

*** I hated Madam and didn’t finish it and do not recommend. I tried to watch Only Foals and Horses on either BritBox or Acorn but it was too intense so I went back to Gardener’s World and Escape to the Country. I want to plant all wildflowers in my raised beds this year and once again will try to keep them alive. Dang, that location is rough. I watched The Biggest Little Farm. I am knitting the Sirius sweater in Nature Spun sport and the color scheme I’m copying is way out of my usual wardrobe palette and didn’t really come out how I wanted, but hopefully I will like it.

***Darling nine-year-old Hannah suggested adding something for Hanukkah to Winter Rabbit so I made this Hunukkiah that you can substitute for the Christmas tree on the hill, or add elsewhere. Thank you, Hannah!!!

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Mud Days

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Soggy is an understatement. It pours and pours. It pours every day. It's warm, windy, and wet. I feel like I'm slogging through mud, inside and out. Inside, I knit and knit. Hundreds, thousands of yards of stitches, on fingering-weight yarn for my Soorik and bulky-weight yarn for my Getting Warmer. When I'm not doing that, I'm surfing Ravelry early in the morning under a pile of down and flannel, drinking coffee by the light of my iPad, looking for something else to knit. I bought two new raincoats this year, one dark green and one like a dark . . . bark green? Like pine-tree trunk. I meant to return one of them, depending on which one I liked better, and much to my chagrin I liked them both and I am keeping them both, even though they're really similar. They are both perfect Pacific Northwest winter raincoats, in my opinion. I hadn't gotten a coat in a few years and I've made up for it this year. Now I want to knit a hot pink cowl. I think it will look cute with either coat.

We also got two new plug-in sconces for the kitchen and two new lamps for the living room. I am happy with all of them. Andy did a pro-job hanging the sconces and then getting cord covers for them (the cords were black, and plug in under the cabinets). The sconces take 60w bulbs, which is very nice in there (and a lot brighter bulbs than we usually use around here, ha!). So now I can take pictures of dinner in the dark. The other day was Helen's rice pudding to serve with Ikea Swedish meatballs and gravy. This is just the best rice pudding in the world. It's a recipe from Andy's (Swedish) grandmother and we make it regularly. It's perfect for meatballs, and I actually have started baking it for about ten minutes less than the recipe calls for. That leaves a lovely, jiggly layer of custard on the top and it is all just [chef's kiss] perfect for a sloppy, soupy rainy day.

Thank you so much for the blog recommendations on my last post! I am enjoying checking everything out! I sent my last pattern of 2021 in to the printer a few days ago and it will be here on the 22nd, and then we will get to work stuffing kits. We are reissuing Things of Winter, First Snow, and Winterwoods ABCs kits later this month, as well, so stay tuned for that! (Those are all links to the patterns, BTW.) And when all that is done, that will be the END of the reissues and the end of 2021! Yippee!

Clover needs to have some teeth pulled and they can't get her in to do that until next month. She is otherwise healthy, which is good news. Agatha continues to destroy every houseplant (I only have three left) while also being incredibly cute and also mildly savage. I'm planning to make my way through this list of ice-skating documentaries and videos. I have so many texts and emails I need to answer. And I should probably order some groceries. Blah. Not inspired to do that. Every outdoor play-date and hike has been canceled this week due to the rain. I'm already over it and it's only November.

School Has Started!

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Yep! It's September! School has started! Amelia is behind me right now virtually presenting her "All About Me" report. She is reading it out loud to her class in the sweetest, most presenter-y voice. I wish I were recording this. "My favorite color is magenta." Agh, she's so sweet. They're all so sweet. I love these kids. Amelia has a gigantic pink gift-bow in her hair right now. It's on a wire and came on a present from someone at some point; I can't even remember who. It's about half the size of her head. She looks like a Victorian doll. But school (they are following the Florida Virtual School curriculum, for anyone interested) is going great so far. It's only been two weeks, of course. But the amount of stress that has been removed from my life now that only the teacher is asking her to do her work and I'm not asking her to do her work (as I was when we were doing Oak Meadow, which turned into a bit of a power struggle, and I hated that) is immeasurable. This seems better for both of us. I mean, I have no idea if this is a "better" education. I'm not saying that either way — I guess only time will tell and I really don't know. But she is happier, and I am happier, and it is just better for our relationship and that's worth a lot right now, so I would say it is a better education for her at this point. She had to answer some multiple-choice questions on the module that gives an overview the lesson set-up, and one of the questions asked what they liked best about learning; she enthusiastically chose “taking tests!” Her second was "doing worksheets." Which, like . . . I burst out laughing. Aren't they supposed to hate worksheets and tests, or . . . ? :) Ha! And I think Andy’s still planning on doing some special studies with her when he’s home. They really enjoyed that.

It's freezing in here! It was 44 degrees this morning. All the windows were open upstairs and the wind whipped through. I've been waking up way too early, like 4 a.m. When that happens I just chuck in any attempt to go back to sleep and get up, go downstairs and make a cup of coffee, and then come back up and get under the covers and surf Pinterest in the dark for a few hours. Surfing Pinterest makes things feel like the old days, when I decorated rooms and made clothes and cooked more. It makes me want to do those things again, so I like it. Still haven't done many of those things but I'm still trying. I don't mind getting up at 4:00 because it's very quiet (aside from Agatha meowing at me; she's a very meow-y cat) and I get some time to myself. I printed off a recipe for apple muffins this morning. That's on my list for the day. Maybe it will be a muffin lunch here.

Having Amelia occupied for part of the day has given me more time to work, and I am so happy to be working. Two new kits are in production right now; FedEx tells me that patterns should be here today. New assistant Anna is just amazing and is putting together all the kits, including two reprints (The Leaves by Hundreds Came and Things of Autumn — we'll re-launch those at the same time as the new ones), and making more lotion bars. Andy has pulled the floss for all four kits and that's all done. We found some stuff (Phyllis Mouse kits and Calicozy strips) in the attic that we didn't know we had so I've been putting some new-old things together as well. Amelia's desk is ready and Andy finished building the big shelf and we gave his old desk away. We've all been working nonstop for the past few weeks and are slowly catching up.

I started a new Porty Cardigan last winter. It's another thing I recently found. I picked it back up and have been knitting the body and am now trying to bind-off. I'm using Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight. It's probably the scratchiest yarn I've ever used and I really hope I like wearing it when it's all done. It has definitely not been my favorite yarn to knit with, though the colors are splendid. I also recently found and finished another Granny's Favourite in Woolfolk Far for Amelia. I apologize for the scanty info on these Ravelry entries; I don't seem to remember anything about them! Need to write things down more. A few nights ago I had this very old memory of a sweater vest I had when I was a kid — it was navy blue, just a crew-neck wool vest, but it had an intarsia autumn tree in red, yellow, and orange on the front. I remember that I wore it on a field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago on a beautiful, beautiful fall day and I just loved that vest and that museum and that day. I remember riding the bus on I-290 and looking at the Congress El at rush hour. I found this pattern started it (without the fair isle) in Nature Spun sport and am planning to embroider a fall tree on the front in duplicate stitch for Amelia. I'm hoping to have it done by her birthday. I've been just knitting in circles every night as I watch This Farming Life. (I'm on Season Three, which is the last season for me as I started with Season Four, and I will be SO SAD when I get through it! I love this show so very much! Should I just start watching again? What do I do? I need more!)

For dinner, I made Creamy French Mustard Chicken and everyone here really liked it, including Amelia, which made me feel really good. I roasted some vegetables on the side and, I don't know, there really is nothing like cooking something autumnal that your child will eat to make you feel happy and accomplished.

Spring Things Now Available!

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Oh man, this morning I was just lying in bed in my nightgown drinking a second cup of coffee watching soap-pouring videos on Instagram at 8:50 a.m. thinking, "Gosh, Andy's got some work to do, he really needs to make sure Amelia is logging in for school, yeah buddy" when I remembered, "Oh mercy mercy me I'm having a sale in one hour and ten minutes and I haven't written my blog post!" Forgive! I am linking every one of these pictures to its product page, which, according to Shopify's new feature, is scheduled to automatically go live at 10 a.m. PDT. Let's see if this works! Above is Whan That Aprille, the first in my 2021 seasonal series. There will be one for each season, starting with this one for spring. The Whan That Aprille PDF pattern is here.

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Above is my new hoop=framed design, Spring Wreath. The kit comes with the printed pattern, floss, fabric, ribbon, and hoop for framing. I just love this one. The Spring Wreath PDF is here. There will be a summer and a fall coming in 2021.

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Okay, this: This is my baby. This is the Flower & Frond  embroidered jewelry kit. It contains a whole lot of what you need to make four embroidered necklaces and one pin. I think my method for mounting the jewelry is a bit different than other tutorials I've seen. Mine is better. I'll tell you all my secrets. We are only making 200 of these kits. I never know if I am going to reissue kits once they are sold out. There is no PDF-pattern-only available for this design. The instructions and templates are specific to exactly these findings that I have sourced. I'm excited and nervous to launch this one! I've never done a kit like this before! In fact, there is nothing even remotely like this available anywhere that I can find. I can't wait to see what you make with it.

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I dyed some yarn. There isn't much but it sure is springy. The worsted-weight skeins are here.

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Fingering-weight is here.

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A very, very small amount of soap. But we're definitely making more.

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A few Early Spring lotion bars. (And we are definitely making more lotion bars, though probably not any more of these, very soon.)

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Oh! And some finished hand-embroidered jewelry! You know I never do this. But I did it.

We also have restocked Dovegray Doll kits, Time of Flowers kits, Love and Joy kits, and a few Misselthwaite Mitts kits.

Let me know if you have any questions, and thank you so very, very much for your interest and support! XOXO, alicia

UPDATED, 1:03 p.m.: Andy and Amelia just made a few Forest Flower and Summer Day lotion bars! Homeschool!

UPDATED AGAIN, 1:19 p.m.: Yep, I can combine shipping if you place two orders. No problem! :) You don't even need to let me know; the computer should find them and I will refund extra shipping charges from multiple orders at the end (refunds are on a different app on a different computer than shipping).

Doing Random Stuff

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The biggest news in my life lately is that I bought a new duvet cover and king-size pillows. And also these shams. I just felt like our bedroom, which has become my Mom Cave, needed some cheering up. I also wanted those red gingham shams from Zara. They are a really weird size — they call them for "big pillows." A "big pillow" is 27.5" x 35.5". That's huge. That's like the length-of-a-standard-pillow high, and a yard wide. Those pillows sell for like $85+. There was no way I was paying that. I spent hours on Google looking for the same gingham shams (dark red gingham, not red gingham) but in a normal size (like, a king-size pillow, or even a standard) or big pillow inserts that weren't $85+. I Googled every word for dark red — maroon, wine, burgundy — and I couldn't find the right gingham that was like the Zara gingham. I finally found  floor pillows with yucky covers from Overstock that were the same size as "big pillows" but were about $30, I think. Then I gave up and ordered the Zara shams. I went totally crazy. I spent a week doing that.

So you see, you have missed nothing re: my lack of blogging.

Andy has received both doses of the vaccine, so that's been a huge relief. Amelia and I still live as if we are under house arrest but I don't care how long we have to wait, now that Andy is more protected. I send my prayers for all of you adversely affected by this virus. It's been hard. I'm eager for spring to start arriving. Amelia and I have spent many mornings watching for beavers at a local pond, but we're not having much luck. I need to start going very early in the morning because beavers are nocturnal, and I think they start heading home at dawn. . . .

I'm working on the three projects I told you about, and almost all of the things I've ordered for all the kits are here. The jewelry kit will include Weeks Dye Works hand-dyed embroidery floss, so that is still being dyed. The are going to be such nice kits. I am so excited for them. My assistant, Ivy, is working on cutting fabric and assembling jewelry pieces at her house and I'm trying not to overwhelm her with stuff to do — she has a full-time job and works for me only when she can. But we will get there. I'm hoping we can start shipping stuff sometime toward the end of March. I will definitely let you know when everything is ready.

Here's a list of the British mysteries and cop shows I have watched on BritBox and Acorn TV and Netflix this year: Happy Valley (my favorite), Vera, Shetland, Broadchurch, Scott & Bailey, Grantchester, No Offense, Dr. Foster, Unforgotten, The Sounds, The Nest, Marcella, Collateral, London Spy, and lots of Marple, Midsommer, and Morse. Also Loch Ness. What am I missing. Case Histories. I finished Catastrophe (loved it) and lost my mind for Normal People. Gosh that was good. What should I watch next?

Love and Joy Come to You

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Oh, my, the sun is shining brightly through all the windows here today. The light is so beautiful. It makes the high-ceilinged stairwell glow. I've finished wrapping, shipping, and delivering all the presents — except for my poor sister-in-law's, whose gift is lost in the mail to me somewhere. I hope it turns up. We have the same birthday in a couple of weeks so it might have to be a birthday present. Amelia has the biggest pile of presents I've ever seen. (I saw a funny meme this morning: Kid: "Mom, I know it's not Santa who gets all of our presents, wraps them, and puts them under the tree on Christmas . . . it's Dad!" Mom: "I can, with 100% certainty, tell you that you are wrong.") I bought her a new American Girl doll and Andy got her a checkerboard that she's been asking for and another Lego set. Her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have given her the rest of the moon, and I think she is going to be thrilled when she sees what's under the tree. I know that Christmas is about more than the presents, but this is the first year Amelia has actually asked for anything (thanks to hours of TV watching, probably) and I think we are all happy to make those sweet, simple wishes come true for our girl right now.

The weeks have gone by in a bit of a blur. I knew Christmas would come quickly without all of the usual events. I haven't really tried to make up for that. It's been nice. We've baked stuff and learned about Christmas carols and played with the kitters and watched movies. There will be Zoom calls with families tomorrow, and present-opening for us, and Andy and I are going to make Swedish meatballs from scratch, with rice pudding and buttered noodles. My friend Amy gave me a caramel-apple crisp that she got from her realtor but couldn't eat because of allergies, so we will bake that up for our dessert. Andy works on Christmas Day, and I'm planning to watch The Sound of Music that afternoon with Amelia. I'm not sure she'll make it through the whole thing, but I will. I often watch Heidi or maybe an old version of A Christmas Carol on Christmas night. My dad loved that movie. For a few years when I was a kid I sang in the children's chorus of Oak Park's Village Players in their yearly production of Ebenezer (a musical version of A Christmas Carol). That always feels like "my" story, and I still love it.

Mostly I sit around knitting my Porty Cardigan and it has been a great project for these months. I have made many mistakes on it but none of them were deal-breaking, so I just keep going. I finished the first sleeve (see my Instagram for how I felt about it) and I'm starting on the second sleeve. This is a fingering-weight sweater in size XL so it feels like there are millions of stitches in it and it is literally taking forever. BUT I absolutely love the weight of this sweater — so much better for my climate and lifestyle than a worsted-weight sweater. So, I am already planning my next fingering-weight sweater, and I will probably use the Jamieson & Smith 2-ply yarn I bought for this one and didn't wind up using. First I have to finish this one, though, I know. I will try to make a video when I cut the steek because you know everyone likes that drama.

Andy and I are hopeful that he will be getting the vaccine sometime this or next week, maybe even on Christmas. What a great present! He said he saw a few of his colleagues posting pictures of themselves getting vaccinated on Instagram, and this morning the hospital sent a questionnaire in preparation for its employees' vaccinations. It can't come soon enough. I can't thank the people who worked on this enough. I still just feel like I am in a daze about it all.

I wish you all the happiest of holidays and I have the highest of hopes for the new year. Please take care of yourselves and your families, and enjoy the small joys of this season. Thank you for being here with me this year — I'm so grateful for your friendship toward me and my family, and I send you our warmest wishes for these sacred days.

Love always,

Alicia, Andy, Amelia, Clover Meadow, and Agatha Pirlipat Paulson
XOX

Catching Up and New Designs

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Thank you so much for all of your kind words to me on my last post. I really appreciate the encouragement. Man oh man. I am feeling pretty good this week. I have been working a lot and things are coming together that way, which makes me happy. I like to be busy and really dug-in on my projects, and I think that's been part of the problem — it's just so hard to get into flow now, you know?

Time is kind of all broken up in a different way now, and there is very little quiet time. BUT Amelia is doing really well and continuing to thrive in lock-down. She never complains. Well, there was one time that she completely fell apart. She was at a Zoom birthday party for her friend Lillian who moved away last year. Lillian lives in Detroit now, so the party started late for them in Michigan but before school was finished for us, with the time-zone change, so by the time Amelia got off her school call she was ten minutes late to the party. Lil's mom had sent a little envelope of treats and a packaged cookie and a party horn and a party hat for all the girls to wear. Mimi was really into it. I went upstairs to sit down but just a few minutes later I suddenly heard howling. She came running upstairs with her tiny party hat on crooked and her party horn in her hand, crying, "Mama! Mama! The call cut off!" She collapsed on the bed and she was sobbing so hard I thought my heart was going to shatter. Lillian's mom texted and said they had restarted the call for a few minutes so everyone could say goodbye but Amelia was having none of it. I just held her while she cried and I tried not to cry myself. She just cried and cried. She said, "I just want to go back to school!" And man, that was a hard moment. "I know, baby. I know." That is the one and only time I've ever seen her completely lose her shit during all of this. Most of the time she carries on with a smile and a sparkle and really good attitude. I don't think I've ever seen her cry that hard about anything else, ever. I write this because I don't want to forget that she felt this.

Most mornings I sit at my desk with Amelia on her school meetings at the computer behind me and I can hear her teacher and her classmates on Zoom. Every day I give thanks for her teacher and her friends. They make me laugh every single day. Teacher: "Maybe someone in your house can help you with this later today." Seven-year-old: "Maybe. But when my dad gets home from work he usually puts on a tank top and plays video games for a while." Ha! Tank top. I don't know how the teacher doesn't dissolve in peels of laughter every single day but she keeps it cool. I miss the kids and my time reading with them in their classroom every week. They are just all so cute and so sweet to each other and so willing and so adorable. I miss them and I miss Amelia being with them. But I am grateful that she gets to connect with her people on screen, at the very least. Kiddos are resilient but it doesn't mean that things don't still hurt, and thank goodness for the consistency and familiarity of screen-school.

I have DECIDED to make myself a sweater. Out of fingering-weight yarn. Tiny stuff. It's a sweet sweater, called Porty Cardigan. There's a knit-along happening for it on Instagram, I think. I'm going to join in as soon as my yarn gets here. I'm not much of a joiner and I've never done a knit-along but I am excited. This is a steeked cardigan. I had started another steeked cardigan for Amelia last week but I'm frogging it. I just didn't like my color choices (I was using all stash yarn). I ordered all new yarn for my Porty. I bought Jamieson & Smith 2-ply like the pattern calls for. I don't like shopping for yarn that I don't know well online. It's so hard to know what the colors will really be like! I looked at several different web sites and they all had slightly different colors for the same yarn. So who knows. I wonder if I can get the tracking number and stalk it every step of the way until it gets here. Hopefully I'll like what I get but if not, WHO CARES. Alicia, you just need to dig in and FINISH SOMETHINGGGGGG. Finish it. Stopping starting things and then putting them down.

I have a new assistant. She is delightful. Her name is Ivy. She is taking alllllll of the kit supplies home and stuffing all of my kits at her house now. This is amazing. This is life-changing for me because it has been a while since I've had an assistant, and I've NEVER had one that worked from home. It is excellent, though I do really miss getting to work with her here in the office the way I used to do with all my previous assistants, especially Greta and Stacey. I love working with those girls. But someday. Ivy goes to a local college here and is taking a year off. Not only is she willing to model things for me she is also gorgeous, which is just so convenient. I mean:

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Like, ADORABLE. It was literally pouring rain not two minutes before we took this picture yesterday on my front stairs. She's modeling the cowl I designed last month. It's called the Drip Glaze Cowl because it reminds me of the Zoom pottery class that Andy and I took a few weeks ago and the many nights we have enjoyed watching The Great Pottery Throw-Down (love it). The cowl is done in fingering- or sport-weight yarn and I recommend having one of those be hand-dyed and speckled, because it looks cool that way. I used 100% cashmere for the neck ribbing. I love cowls and I love this one and I hope you do, too. To purchase the downloadable PDF pattern on my web site click here. To purchase it on Ravelry, click here. Thank you, Ivy, for all of your help.

I also have an embroidery kit for you. It is quick to do and to hoop-frame; I finished it in a single day. I think it would make a lovely gift. I'm selfish and am keeping mine for myself. I forgot to list the ribbon on the list of things included in the kit, but you get that included (and the Hardwicke Manor hoop, too).

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This is done on plain muslin with two plies of DMC embroidery floss, and that's all included, too, of course. To purchase the Winter Wreath kit, click here. For the PDF pattern only, click here.

And, last but not least, I have the last installment of this year's seasonal series, Things of Winter:

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I have really enjoyed doing this series, and I loved stitching this one in particular. Thank you to every single one of you who has stitched the designs for every season this year. I really like doing seasonal stuff and I have no idea what I will do next year. Throw some ideas at me and I'll see what I can come up with. To purchase Things of Winter kit, click here. For the PDF pattern only, click here. Since last spring, all of my PDF patterns include both color chart and black-and-white charts. Kits only include printed color charts. But if you buy the kit and you want the black-and-white PDF, just email me and I'll send it to you.

I'm going to be doing all of the shipping of these kits myself, and I'm hoping to get every single thing out by Thanksgiving. That's my goal. I wish you all a peace-filled week and I thank you again for every kindness you show you here. It helped me a lot, and I am thankful for you. XO

At Christmastime

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Oh, December! You are filled with some of the loveliest things. Cold, clear mornings and steaming, spicy drinks. Children bonkers with excitement over the slightest things, the picture of a mouse behind an advent-calendar window, a two-cent candy cane, another tiny ornament for the tree. School sing-alongs and the smell of soup for lunch in the morning hallways. While she's at school, I scurry: writing Christmas cards, baking cookies, starting and finishing a comforter for her, shipping orders as fast as I can so I can get to wrapping the gifts that must be shipped. There's a constant back and forth to the post office. I knit and stitch through the chilly nights, surrounded by aging animals and waiting for my love to get home from work. He comes in with groceries and a blast of cold air and his good cheer, warming the room.

We went to Oregon Ballet Theater's Nutcracker on Saturday afternoon, and it was just pure delight, as always. (The photo of the Waltz of the Snowflakes is by Blaine Truitt Covert, and I always include it here because they don't allow you to take pictures, but I don't want to forget this. It's my favorite part.) Amelia made it all the way through (it's looooong, isn't it?) and snuggled on my lap in the dark auditorium for the last half of the second act. Afterward we went to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner, which felt festive and fun and sits beguilingly right on the river in one of the best spots-with-a-view in town. Boats decorated with lights floated down the river beyond the windows. A balloon guy came over and made her a balloon rainbow, and we all ate sherbert and spumoni for dessert. It was a wonderful day. This morning I was lying in bed and Amelia brought me a tiny cup of what looked like four or five crushed up Cap'n Crunches. "Huh," I said. "Thanks, I think?" "It's a special present," she said. "My nutcracker crushed them for you!" Right on.

Thank you so much for all of your pattern orders!!! I'm rounding third on all my little chores, ready to be done with the to-do list. Today Andy is home, and is already doing the school run, and will do the pick-up, too. My freedom is strange and luscious. I hardly know where to start! I'm trying to tie Amelia's comforter while she's at school — this thing so far is still a surprise, and I keep it hidden when she is home, as much as I wan to be working on it because it's taking forever to tie. My fingers are so sore. (I'm using a big fat doll needle to tie it with perle cotton, and I recommend using a very big needle for this.) We are one week from Christmas, and it really does feel like a slow but steady slide, right into the heart of the season. I recorded The Sound of Music the other night and played the Do-Re-Mi scene for Amelia (it always chokes me up, right when Julie Andrews comes swinging through that sunny green bower and the music swells, oh man!). We sang it together for the rest of the night.

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I made these cookies and I thought you might like them. For me they are the perfect Christmas cookie — chocolaty, salty, buttery, and minty. And just the right amount of sweet. They don't keep very long, so eat them up.

Chocolate Buttercream Mints

Cookies (adapted from Hershey's Chewy Chocolate Cookie recipe, which I have a handwritten copy of from twenty years ago but can't find on their web site anymore):

1 cup salted, softened butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well. In separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Blend flour mixture into creamed mixture. Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 8 minutes (Do not over bake. Cookies will be soft. They will puff during baking, flatten upon cooling.) Cool on cookie sheet until set, about 1 minute. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Frosting:

1 cup salted butter
4-5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
Pink food coloring
Crushed candy canes

Cream butter in large bowl. Add powdered sugar gradually and blend very well. Add milk, peppermint extract and blend again. Tint half of the frosting with pink. Spoon frosting into a pastry bag, keeping each color to one half the bag. Use a star tip and blob some frosting onto each cooled cookie. Top with a small amount of crushed candy canes.

 

Wishing every one of you a most lovely, loving, peaceful week as we lead up to Christmas! XOX, A

Dovegray Doll PDFs and Some New Clothes!

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Well, hello! Here are some lovely patterns for you! And it's about time, too!

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These first two — Dovegray Doll and Little Peasant Dress, Pinafore, and Lace Stockings — you know well. They are exactly the same as the patterns available in the doll kit and the dress kit. But now you can download them and print them at home. As you probably know, you will need Adobe Reader to view and print this pattern on your home computer. 

This next batch of knitting patterns are only available as PDF patterns. The first one is Little Flower Sweater. It is a top-down seamless sweater in sport-weight yarn. It has a simple two-motif that is easy to manage if you've never done colorwork before. I love this sweater and it is the inspiration for the kidd0-sized version I am developing. (That is in its final phase and will be released in early 2020 if you want to do some dolly-and-me dressing.)

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Then there is Little Cable Turtleneck, and it, too, is a top-down seamless raglan sweater done in sport-weight yarn. It has a simple turtleneck and cable running right down the front, also an easy introduction to cabling. I sort of want a sweater exactly like this for myself. But I am planning a kid-version of this in 2020 as well.

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Little Raglan Pullover is basically the same as my little stripey pullover without the stripes. Again, top-down, seamless, raglan, sport-weight. It has contrast solid colors at neck, cuff, and hem. I used my hand-dyed sport-weight yarn for these samples. (I sooooo wanted to get some mini-skeins together to make some kits for you for this sweater but it won't happen until January, either. I'm making a kiddo-version pattern in worsted-weight and I will definitely have hand-dyed speckled worsted- and sport-weights available when I launch that. The weather is so gross now that it makes dyeing yarn a bit challenging for me right now. That, and the fifty-thousand other things I have going on. But, just know, those yarns are coming and they are going to be so pretty. I've done a few skeins just for myself and I'm really happy.)

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Now, here are some Little Accessories for Dolls. They include a ribbed scarf, a cable scarf, a heartwarmer, and cowl, a wrap, a bonnet, and leg warmers. Some of these patterns (leg warmers, wrap, cable scarf, ribbed scarf) exist in other individual animal patterns. But I wanted to bundle the accessories together here for those who only want the knitting patterns and not the accompanying sewing patterns (that come with the original designs; you can see them all here). The bonnet and the heartwarmer and the cable cowl are new. They're just cute. Easy construction, also all sport-weight, you'll have the whole passel of them done in three or four Christmas movies. That's how time should be counted right now. How many Christmas movies will this take me? Hmmmm [finger to cheek]. Three or four.

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Last is the Little Raglan Cardigan. Every single solitary time I write the word "raglan" I write "ragland." Every time. Should you find this typo anywhere here let me know. I'll only be shocked if you don't find one.

This cardi (top-down, seamless, sport) is a slightly reworked version of an older pattern I had written for animals but this time it has no dedicated buttonholes. Those proved to be 1) annoying (I was doing a cast-off/cast-on buttonhole) and 2) too big anyway. So this pattern has no buttonholes; you can put buttons on either side, and you can slip the buttons pretty easily right through the knitting. They're quite small. We have some buttons here, but if you can wait until the new year I am going to be selling hand-dyed doll buttons in really beautiful colors (mustards, pinks, mauves, grays, clays, greens) instead of bright primary colors and I am excited about this. I just ordered 1,000 tiny buttons so stay tuned for those. I'll show you here on the blog when I'm done. They're perfect for all sorts of small doll clothes. The usual story: I couldn't find ones I like so I just had to make my own and start selling them, too. You know how it goes. This is everyone's story.

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Anyway, have so much fun with these! I'm using the hashtag #dovegraydolls and, so far, #littleflowersweater if you'd like to post your creations to Instagram. These patterns are all up on Ravelry now, too. I've seen a few that people have made so far and oh my stars, your photos do bring me such joy! Please post them or send them to me. They seriously make my day more than you know! Thank you!

Decembery

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Halllooooooo! Happy December to you! It's hard to believe it's December already. I'm not ready. I have so much to do and, really, not enough time to get it done. Mild frustrations. I sat down this morning specifically to answer emails and ship orders and blog, and naturally the internet wasn't working. Stuff like that. The house is still mostly covered in pumpkins. Mimi and I did go to JoAnn's to pick up a few things the other day (one of them the pre-assembled gingerbread house — I have no aptitude for frosting together vertical walls) and she got some supplies to make a wreath for her room door. She cut apart a few little sprigs and added the pom poms and picked the ribbon and I couldn't have done it all any better myself.

Thanksgiving was warm and wonderful. We cooked and my family came and the house was trashed and we had such a nice time. I hope yours was lovely, too. I love Thanksgiving weekend so much. It always feels like the longest weekend of the year. Andy had Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off, and this was extraordinary. The three of us went out to lunch and then to see Frozen 2 on Friday, and on Saturday Andy cleaned his closet (it was like an excavation — this is what happens when you don't move house for twenty years) and I cleaned Amelia's room. We moved almost all of her hanging clothes into the guest room closet. We only have three small closets in the house. It was a little bit bittersweet — I remember so well those early years, when I filled her clothes rod with dozens of tiny little calico dresses and wooly sweaters. It feels like yesterday. But it was time for these big clothes to not be hung above the dresser anymore. Taking them out filled the room with light and air. We dusted and remade the bed and hung some new pictures and cleaned surfaces, ready for the tiny Christmas tree I promised her. She actually asked for a new mattress (she has one of those extendable toddler mattresses from Ikea right now and she doesn't like it — truly a girl after my own princess-and-the-pea heart). I am making her a new Calicozy quilt for Christmas and I really need to get on it! Anyway, her room looked so pretty and sweet when we were done tidying it that I just sat in her chair and stared off into space for about forty-five minutes and, as I told Melissa, I have not felt that level of general satisfaction in a long time. It was really nice.

If only the rest of the house felt like that. . . . I have some serious tidying that needs to happen before Christmas can move onto the property. That will be happening soon!

***Some business housekeeping:

The Dovegray Doll pattern and Peasant Dress, Pinafore, and Stockings patterns are now available as PDFs! I'm so sorry I didn't get them up last week! I am still working on my new knitting patterns and will be getting them up soon!

The pink handwarmers in the photo above were early pink prototypes for my Misselthwaite Mitts. Ultimately, I settled on green for them. I dyed some yarn recently for kits for those, too, and we have seven kits (green) in stock if you prefer.

The pink sweater is a basic raglan that I'm writing a pattern for. I dyed those yarns and I am hoping to make some yarn available for when the pattern launches, too. I want to do a video that shows you how I dye yarn if you would be interested in that?

Mimi's drawings were inspired by Flora Waycott's sweet book, Draw Every Little Thing: Learn to Draw More than 100 Everyday Items from Food to Fashion. I bought her this book and a learn-to-write-cursive book and she has been using both of them every day. It's so adorable.

About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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